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Furniture for the craftsman; a manual for the student and machanic (1914)

Author: Otter, Paul D. (Paul Denniston), b. 1866
Subject: Furniture making; Furniture finishing; Cabinetwork
Publisher: New York, Davis Williams company
Possible copyright status: The Library of Congress is unaware of any copyright restrictions for this item.
Language: English
Call number: 9643446
Digitizing sponsor: Sloan Foundation
Book contributor: The Library of Congress
Collection: library_of_congress; americana

Full catalog record: MARCXML

[Open Library icon]This book has an editable web page on Open Library.


Originally published as a series of articles in the Building age, under the heading, Cabinet work for the carpenter. cf. Pref

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Reviewer: Zither - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - May 16, 2011
Subject: Not for the Beginner
This starts with a small history of English furniture, with much loathing for the collectors' beloved XIV. He points out that Mission and its descendant Arts & Crafts or Craftsman refers back to simplified Renaissance furniture, the carpenter Jacobean of the New World missions from Spain, from American colonial, from the simpler Chippendale (not Chinese Chippendale or Rococo Chippendale), Hepplewhite, and Sheraton, and thinks the simpler forms of Queen Ann perfectly fine. Of course, what he despises in 1890s gingerbread might be exactly what you love, in which case don't decorate with the simple bands he suggests, but the ornate ones he gives just as clearly as bad examples.

What this comes down to is that they concentrate furniture design elements from the middle class, not the courts, where only too much was enough. This puts design within reach of the amateur craftsman, as well as the hobbyist who will spend his weekends making sawdust and turned legs.

The author assumes this book is for young householders, with a smaller home, a need to get the table out of the way after mealtime, using a serving table rather than a big sideboard, &c. Page 36 has a folding set of legs for a tray, rather like a tall luggage stand, that most intermediate woodworkers could put together from the picture with attached measurements.

While he admits of the bandsaw, naturally most of his tools are handtools. Ordinary small power tools are actually cheaper than a well-made spokeshave, nowadays. Some of us prefer the meditative process, the softer sounds of handsaws and bit and brace drills. Some of us don't have the time and use our $30 circular saws, saber saws, and drill-drivers for these jobs: you will have to figure out where. (My #1 advice: Get many blades, from coarse to fine. Very fine.) He makes it rather clear that he would use any power tool that he could fit in his shop, but steam powered ones are *big*.

He does assume the worker has room to make the first project along with him, a freakin' huge hall settle, which would become the largest thing besides a table or bed in our apartment. Maybe you can, maybe you can make it for a friend with a larger place, and maybe you will just have to read a long and figure how to apply this elsewhere, while reading for a smaller project. Or he gives "a very handy clamp made from an old crippled hand screw." I just don't have one of these around, and neither will most. The author does too much live in the workshop, and forgets the life of those who don't won't include lots of covered space or odds and ends of broken gear. This is the downside of this author: he is writing literally for the craftsman who will be making up samples and orders.

The rest is all upside. His plans do not look stiff and lumberyard (I want to make the drop-front desk with curved sides). He discusses choices in stain, and has a chapter each on finishing and upholstery. The whole Craftsman ethos is based on simplicity for the housewife, too, who doesn't have to root dust out of intricate carvings or multiple drapes of cloth. For all that, he treats Art Nouveau as new to America, and his family reading or library table, Fig. 110 on page 92, is a simplified Nouveau design. There's also a Nouveau medicine cabinet.

Hobbyists will find a fund of furniture ideas if they are willing to draft them large themselves, from cedar chests and underbed boxes on wheels to reading tables and piano stools, including a fine rocking chair on p.150. How else will you get a slope-ended couch?

Five stars if it had more or larger plans. Use your scanner to take pix up to page size, trace them neatly, then have them blown up to full size at the print store.

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